Brussels, 11 March 2013 Press release

Spindelegger: "The last stumbling block for Croatia's accession to the EU has been removed by solving the Ljubljanska Banka issue"

Vice-Chancellor welcomes agreement in the bank dispute between Croatia and Slovenia

Brussels, 11 March 2013 – Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger congratulated Slovenia and Croatia on the sidelines of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels on their signing a memorandum of understanding on settling the banking dispute about Ljubljanska Banka. "The breakthrough has only been brought about by the firm resolve of the heads of government in these two countries to solve this bilateral problem. This should be an inspiration for the entire region. The agreement finally paves the way for Croatia's accession to the EU", the Austrian Vice-Chancellor said, welcoming the positive development.

"The agreement is yet another proof of the skill of European integration in solving long-standing conflicts peacefully", Spindelegger said. He continued to say that he was looking forward to the day when Croatia would be an equal member of the EU as "Croatia is not only an important role model for the other states in the Western Balkans, it is also the trailblazer for the entire region and its rapprochement to the EU. With Croatia joining the EU, we will gain another partner for joint initiatives in the design of the expansion process in the Western Balkans", the Vice-Chancellor said.

The dispute about the former Yugoslav foreign currency deposits in the Croatian branch of Ljubljanska Banka threatened to prevent Croatia from joining the EU. The memorandum of understanding provides for a solution of the dispute within the framework of an agreement on legal succession of the states of former Yugoslavia. Croatia is to freeze mandates which would have allowed two Croatian banks to file civil law suits against the Slovene bank, and Slovenia will in turn ratify the EU accession treaty with Croatia which is to enter into force on 1 July 2013.

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